Ireland

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Ireland Money-Saving Tips

Explore the Countryside at National Parks

Many come to Ireland to enjoy the brilliant countryside, and the country's six national parks are a perfect way to do so. All parks offer free admission (though some attractions, such as historical sites, charge a fee for entry). www.npws.ie

Buy a Food Guide

As with any country, standards of food and dining vary in Ireland. We recommend the Bridgestone Guide to Irish Food, which accepts no advertising or payment for entry, or Georgina Campbell’s guide, which is updated annually.

Budget Hotels

Hotel rooms are either priced per room or per person sharing. Due to increased competition and economic conditions, fantastic deals can be had at most times of the year – check hotel websites for special offers. Good hotel deals can also be found through Internet booking engines and local tourist offices or websites.

Car Rental

If you want an automatic transmission, you’ll need to book well in advance as almost all cars available will be manual. And remember, drive on the left side of the road! Ireland has a number of new motorways so getting across or up and down the country has become a lot quicker.

B&Bs

During high season, the best B&Bs book out as quick as the best hotels, so phone ahead. Most B&Bs are registered with Fáilte Ireland, the Irish tourist board, and can be contacted through local tourist offices or through the website www.discoverireland.ie.

Rent a Castle or Manor House

Many Irish castles and manor houses can be rented either partly or wholly for family reunions, weddings, or by groups of friends. Renting a whole castle can seem expensive, but if split between 15-20 people the price compares well with other accommodation.

Book Ahead for Summer

Festivals can book out an entire town’s accommodations, so make sure to check ahead before arriving – particularly in the summer months.

Reset Your Body Clock

Ireland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and eight hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time. It stays light until as late as 11pm in the summer and gets dark as early as 4pm in the winter.

The Dublin Pass

The Dublin Tourism Office offers one-, two-, three-, and six-day passes that include admission to 32 Dublin attractions, like the Guinness Storehouse and the James Joyce Museum. The pass also entitles you to a one-way airport bus transfer and discounts at stores and restaurants. www.dublinpass.ie

Irish Food

While Ireland does have its share of Michelin-starred restaurants, particularly in Dublin, don’t forget the enormous pleasure to be had in a simple bowl of chowder or mussels, or a half-dozen oysters served with a pint of stout (Guinness, Beamish, or Murphys). The key to Irish food is quality ingredients from meat to fish to vegetables. Irish brown soda bread is justly famous, and the Irish breakfast (sausages, bacon, egg, tomatoes, and black pudding), if done right, really will “set you up for the day.”

Discounts in Western Ireland

A free discount card for the Shannon region (www.shannonregiontourism.com/25DiscountCard) provides 25 percent off at 43 area attractions, such as Bunratty Castle and the Burren Perfumery.

Smoking Ban

Ireland was the first country in Europe to introduce a smoking ban that forbade smoking in pubs, restaurants, and enclosed public spaces like cinemas and theaters. The ban is adhered to and most people simply step outside. Many pubs have outdoor smoking sections.

Pub Culture

Although the pub is central to Irish culture, strict drunk driving laws and the smoking ban have curtailed pub visits somewhat, leading to more people drinking at home, but the pub remains the mainstay of social life, particularly in rural Ireland. If you want to meet Irish people, there’s no better place, but it is best not to linger in city centers after closing time.

Literary Ireland

Ireland is well known for its literature. Visit W.B. Yeats’ grave in Sligo, follow in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom (from James Joyce’s book Ulysses) on Bloomsday, June 16, visit Galway for the Cúirt International Festival of Literature in April (www.galwayartscentre.ie), or visit County Kerry for Listowel Writers Week at the end of May (www.writersweek.ie).  Other famous Irish writers include J.M. Synge, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, and John McGahern.

Music Festivals

Virtually every weekend, particularly in the summer, you’ll find a music festival. Popular summer festivals include the Galway Arts Festival (www.galwayartsfestival.com), Kinsale Arts Week (www.kinsaleartsweek.com) and the Carlingford Oyster Festival (www.carlingford.ie). Especially recommended are the Cork Jazz Festival (www.corkjazzfestival.com) and the Wexford Opera Festival (wexfordopera.com), both in October.

Free Dublin Cabs

Dublin has a fleet of eco-friendly taxis – high-tech rickshaws, each capable of carrying two passengers and free of charge – for use in the city center. www.ecocabs.ie

Free Museums

Free museums include the National Museum of Ireland and its branches: Natural History, Archaeology and History, and Decorative Arts and History (all in Dublin), and Country Life (in County Mayo). Also in Dublin, the National Library, National Gallery, and Museum of Modern Art at Kilmainham are also free.

Weather

Although Ireland does not suffer huge temperature extremes, weather can change from warm and sunny to chilly and windy in just a couple of hours or in the shade, and it can rain any time of day or night, even during summer. Always pack warm and weatherproof clothing for your trip.

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